Belfer Center Experts Testify at Canadian Hearing on Anti-Terrorism

June 15, 2012
By Doug Gavel

Canadian lawmakers in Ottawa heard Monday (June 11) from three researchers based at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs (BCSIA). Matthew Bunn, co-principal investigator for the Belfer Center's Project on Managing the Atom; William Tobey, senior fellow; and Simon Saradzhyan, fellow, testified at a Senate Committee hearing on the merits of Senate Bill S-9, designed to enhance national efforts to secure nuclear materials.

A sampling of the testimony follows:

Bunn: “I think there is more to be done to improve the security and tracking of those kinds of materials. There are some countries that went into the radiological material business later than the United States did that have birth to death registries. Every movement of a radiological source is tracked and accounted for and so on. The United States does not have that today. I think that is the kind of direction we need to go in.”

Tobey: “This threat is not hypothetical. The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented some 18 cases of fissile material seized outside the control of governments. Other cases have been reported subsequently, including several over the recent decade. While none of the cases involved sufficient material to construct a nuclear bomb, they all demonstrated significant security breaches.”

Saradzhyan: “In terms of the current situation, the gravest threat I again concur with Mr. Bunn is the transfer of technology from state to state. They have proved they can do it in a clandestine manner that was not detected until the work was well under way in Syria, and they can try to do it again. What were the consequences for North Korea after that was discovered? What has happened that could have changed their behaviour? I do not see anything particularly punishing out of that incident.”

Read more on the Belfer Center website >

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Matt Bunn, associate professor of public policy

Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy

“I think there is more to be done to improve the security and tracking of those kinds of materials," said Bunn.